Rugby World Cup: France escape early shock from Uruguay, scramble to second win in All Blacks' pool

A largely reshuffled France side have showed a worrying lack of discipline and a certain nonchalance, as they laboured to a 27-12 victory against an inspired Uruguay in their second World Cup game.

Fabien Galthie's choice to make 12 changes from the team that beat three-time champions New Zealand in the tournament opener could have backfired, as France were never fully in control at the Pierre Mauroy Stadium, sealing the win only in the final minutes.

They prevailed with tries by Antoine Hastoy, Peato Mauvaka and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, with the rest of the points coming from the boot of the reliable Melvyn Jaminet, while Uruguay scored two fine tries by Nicolas Freitas and Baltazar Amaya, as Felipe Etcheverry could only kick a conversion.

France lock Cameron Woki celebrates victory against Uruguay.
France lock Cameron Woki celebrates victory against Uruguay. Photo credit: Getty Images

France lead Pool A with eight points, three ahead of Italy. New Zealand face Namibia at Toulouse on Saturday (NZ time).

"Credit to Uruguay, they played with so much passion and heart," said France general manager Raphale Ibanez. "It was the second win for us in this competition, which was important.

"We made a few mistakes with ball in hand and it was difficult for us to play with good structure. We didn't take the points with ball in hand at the end of the second half."

Uruguay captain Andres Vilaseca was beaming with pride.

"I'm so proud of my team," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better team to lead, that's the truth.

"Today, 10 minutes left of the game, we were fighting against France, one of the best teams in the world, playing at their home ground. This is only the beginning for us."

Uruguay started their World Cup campaign with great fanfare, an early try by Freitas silencing the home crowd.

Superb try

The winger touched down in the corner, after collecting a crossfield kick from Felipe Aliaga, showing that the South Americans have more to offer than courage and grit.

The hosts responded quickly, after torturing their opponents in the scrum, with Hastoy going over and Jaminet converting to put them 10-5 ahead.

Over-confident, France thought that was the early break they needed, but the visitors had other ideas.

Romain Taofifenua was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle, and Uruguay threatened through Freitas and were denied a try, after Tomas Inciarte was harshly ruled to have blocked a French tackler.

Undisciplined in the scrum and bothered by Uruguay in the mauls, France were only 13-5 ahead at halftime and the visitors continued their effort after the break.

They reduced the arrears with a superb try by Amaya, who evaded a tackle, before touching down in the corner.

'Les Bleus' were somehow lucky to extend their lead shortly afterwards, as Mauvaka scored a try, after Felipe Etcheverry's kick in the traffic bounced onto the back of a teammate and into the path of the French hooker.

Jaminet's conversion put them 20-12 ahead and Bielle-Biarrey, the youngest French player to take part in a World Cup, put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from time, when he dived over on the open side.

Sekou Macalou had the bonus-point try denied, and it was a fair conclusion to an entertaining match, during which France conceded a woeful 15 penalties.

"It's unacceptable at international level," said France lock Cameron Woki. "We're lucky to win after being penalised so many times."


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